The first few months of this year have slipped away, unnoticed, since the global grip of CV 19. Yet February 2020 was quite a milestone for Paul, and for our family.
On 12th February 2020 Paul was awarded his PHD in Health Policy. The ceremony was held at the Deakin University Campus at Geelong.
Five years ago, Paul retired, and immediately began his PHD. Both Paul and I have always loved learning, and we were both surprised at how many people were amazed that he should start a PHD at 60 years of age.
Paul’ s father and uncles were pharmacists, and many of his family work as health professionals of various kinds.
Not long after Paul was born, (the first child in a family of eight children) Paul’ s father, Frank bought a pharmacy in a small town, Oak Flats on the south coast of New South Wales.
Frank, a quietly spoken, knowledgeable man was the perfect pharmacist for a region not blessed with many health facilities, doctors or clinics. At the end of every day he returned home only after he had delivered prescriptions to elderly patients. As the children grew, the older boys in the family delivered prescriptions on their bikes on the weekend.
Years after Paul and I had settled in Canberra we met a middle-aged woman who came from Oak Flats. When we mentioned Paul’s father she said,
‘Oh, I remember Mr Mackey! I came from a big family and my Mum used to get us to ride up to Mr Mackey’s pharmacy when one of the little ones were sick. We couldn’t afford to go to the doctor every time, and Mr Mackey was just as good!”“
I always relied on Frank when either of our daughters were sick, and trusted his judgement completely. He was a calming influence to all those who had young children. When we visited Frank and his wife Margaret, our daughters, (the first of many grandchildren) always remembered him making them toast and orange juice before changing into his crisp white coat and going on his long commute to work.
As young adults Paul and I left Sydney to work in Canberra. I began teaching, and Paul began his career in the Research Service at the former Provisional (for 60 years!) Parliament House. This building is now the Museum of Australian Democracy.
Over time Paul took over the portfolio of Health, a perfect fit for someone with his background.
As with many young families, we juggled life with one car. Much as I love the Walter Burley Griffin plan of space between suburbs in Canberra, it makes for a long commute home from the centre of the city.
Most days I would put the girls in the car, drive to Old Parliament House, and park almost outside the front door. I’d often sing songs so that our younger daughter, Jess, didn’t fall asleep while waiting for Dad.
During the time Paul spent at Old Parliament House, a Christmas party for children of employees was held in the lovely grounds of Parliament House every December.
The Senate gardens were spilling over with roses and irises..
What a mild and carefree time it was…
Once new Parliament House was built, Paul moved into this office in Parliament House.
When Parliament was sitting Paul often had to work until 10.00 pm. Our daughters were still young, and it was a long evening without Paul!
Occasionally I would take the girls into Parliament House and meet Paul in the cafeteria for dinner. The car park we used would be completely inaccessible to the public now. September 11 changed many things over time.
Paul has worked in many sectors of Health since his early days at Parliament House. Throughout his long and varied career he has remained passionate about health care, and equality in our Health system.
Since Paul retired and began his PHD he has enjoyed juggling studying, gardening, travelling and being a grandparent ….a perfect fit…
Paul has given papers at many conferences, and I’ve enjoyed going along, hearing and talking to Health professionals. As a bonus we have both enjoyed visiting gardens in various cities, places we may never have visited if not for Paul’s studies.
On a very windy day in February, Paul graduated, and he wrote a wonderful acknowledgement at the beginning of his PHD, for the support of myself, our daughters, Rebecca, Jessica, and our son-in-law, Anthony, and he ended with this important acknowledgement:
I would also like to thank my mother and late father for all they did to start my learning journey many years ago. This thesis is dedicated to my granddaughter, Joanie, with the hopeful wish for an equitable future.
The pandemic today has shown us all how fragile and central health systems are in our countries, and our world…..and the importance of equity in the survival of us all.
I hope you are all well, and surviving in this new and restrictive world. Where ever you are in the world, I wish you sunshine and warmth, and if you have a garden, may it flourish!
Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.